Edinburgh’s annual Doors Open Day weekend (September 24 and 25) is fast approaching, and by now you probably know the drill. Loads of local buildings open their usually locked doors for two days only and allow the curious public inside.
In such a historic place, who wouldn’t want to go snooping around some of the grandest and most fascinating locations in the city?
Here are some of the destinations we’re most excited about visiting.
Corstorphine Hill Tower
Climb the 20 metre high Corstorphine Hill Tower (built in 1871 as a memorial to Sir Walter Scott) on the summit of the already 170 metre high Corstorphine Hill for a unique and breathtaking view of Edinburgh. From Leith to Fife and even the Pentlands, make the most of this rare panorama of the whole city while you can.
Lothian Buses Central Depot
For one day of the year you can go to the buses instead of making the buses come to you, right? Take a trip down to the Lothian Buses depot in Leith, which has been home to Edinburgh’s fleet since 1926. The buildings surprising and stunning domed roof alone is worth the visit, and we bet you’ve never seen hundreds of buses in one place before – quite the sight to behold.
Mansfield Traquair Centre
If you’re lucky, you might have visited the Mansfield Traquair Centre for a wedding or other special event, but it’s still one of Edinburgh’s best kept secrets. Behind the doors of this former church you’ll find breathtaking murals, painted by Phoebe Anna Traquair in the 1890s.
You’ve probably ordered a coffee or a wrap from an Edinburgh police box, but when have you ever had the chance to step inside one? Here’s your chance to see exactly what one of the city’s iconic police boxes looked like when they were first built in the 1930s. We can neither confirm nor deny whether Doctor Who will be around when you stop by.
Perched on top of Blackford Hill, the Victorian Royal Observatory buildings are one of the many jewels in Edinburgh’s crown, but we’re betting you’ve never ventured through the doors. Not only can you enjoy the unbelievable view of the city from outside, you can nose around the site where some of the world’s best telescopes are designed and built – not bad going.
Once there to help sailors in need, the beautiful Trinity House in Leith has been around since at least 1555 and gives an insight into the area’s history as a bustling port. Take a wander around the Georgian neo-classical building and learn some stories from the sea as you explore.
Now operating (as you might have guessed) an antiques shop, the building housing Georgian Antiques in Leith was purpose-built as a whisky warehouse back in the late Victorian era. With five stories and 50 thousand square feet to its name, the structure has heaps of original features just waiting to be marvelled at – not to mention some lovely antiques to have a nosey at too.
The Fire Service Museum
Be honest, the little kid in you is dying for a go in a fire engine. Make your dreams a reality with a visit to Edinburgh’s Fire Service Museum on Lauriston Place, which was Fire Service Headquarters from 1900 until 1986. They’ll have some historical and retro engines on display, and maybe you’ll even be allowed to climb in if you ask nicely. But we’re not guaranteeing anything.
Warrender Swim Centre
Okay, okay – you can go to Warrender Swim Centre whenever you like, but on Doors Open Day you don’t have to pay an entry fee or bring your arm bands. Perfectly preserved, it feels like these Victorian swimming baths hidden away on a residential street in Marchmont are existing in a charming timewarp. You’ll have to stop yourself from diving straight in.
This one’s a bit of a double whammy – you can go behind the scenes at the brilliant Edinburgh Printmakers studio while also learning about the history of their building, which was once a community washhouse. The stunning Georgian building was closed to the public in the early 1970s, but on Doors Open Day weekend you can take a guided tour to marvel at some of its remaining original features.
The Victorian Schoolroom
Report to the playground of Leith Walk Primary School on September 24 or 25 and you’ll discover that class is in session, even at the weekend. The History of Education Centre here houses a fully functioning Victorian classroom complete with wooden desks, blackboards and finger-stocks. If you can survive a lesson Victorian style, then venture further into the museum for a room full of fascinating Victoriana.
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Main image: Stuart Caie / Flickr / CC